Home > Food and Weight > Forget Dieting: Fill Yourself Up Before You Eat

Forget Dieting: Fill Yourself Up Before You Eat

I see far too many people go into restrictive mode when they want to shed some pounds.  If you find food pleasurable and you are getting a great deal of your total daily pleasure from food, restricting food means you are restricting your pleasure.  Yikes!  This is especially true if you feel you are addicted to certain foods. Instead of restricting your pleasure, I highly recommend adding alternate, inedible sources of pleasure that you find truly satisfying.  Dropping the restrictive mentality and adopting one of plenty will not only help you lose weight, it will help you maintain it.  Whether you’re telling yourself you can’t have a certain type of food or you limit your food intake (based on anything besides your own body’s satiety cues), “willpower” will only take you so far then dump you in the woods naked, alone and bewildered, wondering what the hell went wrong.  This method of temporary weight loss usually leaves its practitioners feeling angry, sad and shameful, not to mention severely self-critical. Ironically, most people pursue this avenue (in some cases, more than once) convinced that they will end up thinner, and, therefore, happier.  If you are intimately familiar with what I’m talking about, then I invite you to consider this suggestion: fill yourself up before you eat.

To help you fill up before you eat, start by checking in with yourself before you take a bite of anything.  Are you physically hungry?  (for chronic dieters, this may be a difficult question to answer as many diets prescribe what and when to eat based on schedules and food choices that have nothing to do with the dieter’s own hunger and satiety cues). If you answer yes, then eating is what you truly need to be satisfied in that moment (ideally you are hungry, not famished).  If you are not physically hungry, pay attention to what you are feeling.  If you are feeling bored, sad, angry or frustrated, see if you can sit with that feeling for even fifteen or thirty seconds without eating, that may be enough time for you to locate the thought causing the feeling (a feeling is ALWAYS caused by a thought, if you want proof, check out life coach Brooke Castillo’s brilliant Self Coaching 101 tool, while you’re there check out her book If I’m So Smart Why Can’t I Lose Weight? it, too, is brilliant  – I teach many of the tools she introduces in it). If you still feel like eating after sitting a while with your thoughts and feelings, go ahead, go to town – you’ve already extracted the real benefit from the exercise:  dis-identifying from your thoughts long enough to observe them.  When practiced consistently, the thoughts surface and food starts to lose it’s emotional charge.

Observing your thoughts, you may discover that what you really want is something like entertainment, love or approval.  Food is a very poor substitute for any of these things. How do you know?  Because after you’re done eating, you still have not satisfied your emotional hunger, so the next time the real need or want arises you ignore it and eat, repeating the cycle ad nauseam until the buttons start popping off your blouse, and not in a sexy Pussycat Dolls kind of way. Filling yourself up with the very things you truly want and need is the only real solution to this situation.  If, for example, you feel you are lacking love, then give yourself love.  This is accomplished by doing what you love and surrounding yourself with people and things you love. One of the ways I fill myself up is by watching the sunset from my second story deck – I have an ocean view there, and I truly appreciate it when I make the time to do this. Others may consider buying new music or making time to read a book without interruption a real treat.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be satisfying and inedible. Saying no is another good way to show yourself some love if you always put yourself last and it is ultimately way more satisfying than devouring half a chocolate cake.  So, if you are eating but you really want to let your best friend know how much she upset you when she mentioned your collection of granny panties in front of the super cute guy you just started dating, drop the fork and give her a call right now to get it off your chest (or, better yet, do The Work or use another thought dissolving tool such as Self Coaching 101, mentioned above, on whatever thoughts you have about the situation.).

Filling yourself up before you eat will not only make you more inclined to eat for fuel and satiety (thereby causing your body to release excess weight), but you will also feel much more satisfied and peaceful – the very feelings so many people hope to achieve through weight loss. Interesting.

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